OpenAI Staff Threaten Mass Exodus to Join ex-CEO Altman

OpenAI shocked the tech world when it fired former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
OpenAI shocked the tech world when it fired former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
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OpenAI Staff Threaten Mass Exodus to Join ex-CEO Altman

OpenAI shocked the tech world when it fired former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
OpenAI shocked the tech world when it fired former CEO and co-founder Sam Altman. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

Hundreds of staff at OpenAI threatened to quit the leading artificial intelligence company on Monday and join Microsoft, deepening a crisis triggered by the shock sacking of CEO Sam Altman.
In a fast-moving sequence of events, Altman, who was ousted by the board on Friday, has now been hired by Microsoft where he will take the lead in developing a new advanced AI research team, AFP said.
There was talk Monday that OpenAI is interested in Altman returning, and that he may be open to the idea under certain conditions.
"We want to partner with Open AI and we want to partner with Sam so irrespective of where Sam is he's working with Microsoft," chief executive Satya Nadella said in a streamed Bloomberg interview.
"That was the case on Friday. That's the case today. And we absolutely believe that will be the case tomorrow."
In a letter released to the media, the vast majority of OpenAI's 770-strong staff suggested they would follow Altman unless the board responsible for his departure resigned.
"Your actions have made it obvious that you are incapable of overseeing OpenAI," the letter said. "Microsoft has assured us that there are positions for all OpenAI employees at this new subsidiary should we choose to join."
A key AI executive at Microsoft confirmed that they all were welcome from OpenAI if the board that removed Altman doesn't resign.
Among the signatories was co-founder Ilya Sutskever, the company's chief scientist and a member of the four-person board who pushed Altman out.
"I deeply regret my participation in the board's actions," Sutskever said in a post on X, formally Twitter. "I never meant to harm OpenAI."
Another signatory was top executive Mira Murati, who was appointed to replace Altman as CEO when he was removed on Friday, but didn't last the weekend in the job.
"We are all going to work together some way or other, and I'm so excited," Altman said on X.
OpenAI has appointed Emmett Shear, a former chief executive of Amazon's streaming platform Twitch, as its new CEO despite pressure from Microsoft and other major investors to reinstate Altman.
After the startup's board sacked Altman, US media cited concerns that he was underestimating the dangers of its tech and leading the company away from its stated mission -- claims his successor has denied.
Nadella wrote on X that Altman will lead a new advanced AI research team at Microsoft, joined by OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman.
Global tech titan Microsoft has invested more than $10 billion in OpenAI and has rolled out the artificial intelligence pioneer's tech in its own products.
Nadella said Microsoft remains committed to its partnership with OpenAI.
The drama was the talk of Silicon Valley on Monday.
"I know that some people are going to hate me for this, but this is the best show I've seen in my life," added Miguel Fierro, the tech giant's Principal Data Scientist Manager.
Altman shot to fame with the launch of ChatGPT last year, which ignited a race to advance AI research and development, as well as billions being invested in the sector.
His sacking triggered several other high-profile departures from the company, as well as a reported push by investors to bring him back.
But OpenAI stood by its decision in a memo sent to employees Sunday night, saying "Sam's behavior and lack of transparency... undermined the board's ability to effectively supervise the company."
'Badly' handled
Shear confirmed his appointment as OpenAI's interim CEO in a post on X on Monday, while also denying reports Altman had been fired over safety concerns regarding the use of AI technology.
"It's clear that the process and communications around Sam's removal has been handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust," Shear wrote.
Generative AI platforms such as ChatGPT are trained on vast amounts of data to enable them to answer questions, even complex ones, in human-like language.
They are also used to generate and manipulate imagery.
But the tech has triggered warnings about the dangers of its misuse -- from blackmailing people with "deepfake" images to the manipulation of images and harmful disinformation.



8.5 Million Computers Running Windows Affected by Faulty Update from CrowdStrike

A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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8.5 Million Computers Running Windows Affected by Faulty Update from CrowdStrike

A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
A technician works on an information display near United Airlines gates at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, July 19, 2024, after a faulty CrowdStrike update caused a major internet outage for computers running Microsoft Windows. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

As the world continues to recover from massive business and travel disruptions caused by a faulty software update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, malicious actors are trying to exploit the situation for their own gain.
Government cybersecurity agencies across the globe and even CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz are warning businesses and individuals around the world about new phishing schemes that involve malicious actors posing as CrowdStrike employees or other tech specialists offering to assist those recovering from the outage.
“We know that adversaries and bad actors will try to exploit events like this,” Kurtz said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to remain vigilant and ensure that you’re engaging with official CrowdStrike representatives.”
According to The Associated Press, the UK Cyber Security Center said they have noticed an increase in phishing attempts around this event.
Microsoft said 8.5 million devices running its Windows operating system were affected by the faulty cybersecurity update Friday that led to worldwide disruptions. That’s less than 1% of all Windows-based machines, Microsoft cybersecurity executive David Weston said in a blog post Saturday.
He also said such a significant disturbance is rare but “demonstrates the interconnected nature of our broad ecosystem.”
What's happening with air travel? By late morning on the US East Coast, airlines around the world had canceled more than 1,500 flights, far fewer than the 5,100-plus cancellations on Friday, according to figures from tracking service FlightAware.
Two-thirds of Saturday’s canceled flights occurred in the United States, where carriers scrambled to get planes and crews back into position after massive disruptions the day before. According to travel-data provider Cirium, US carriers canceled about 3.5% of their scheduled flights for Saturday. Only Australia was hit harder.
Canceled flights were running at about 1% in the United Kingdom, France and Brazil and about 2% in Canada, Italy and India among major air-travel markets.
Robert Mann, a former airline executive and now a consultant in the New York area, said it was unclear exactly why US airlines were suffering disproportionate cancellations, but possible causes include a greater degree of outsourcing of technology and more exposure to Microsoft operating systems that received the faulty upgrade from CrowdStrike.
How are healthcare systems holding up? Health care systems affected by the outage faced clinic closures, canceled surgeries and appointments and restricted access to patient records.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., said “steady progress has been made” to bring its servers back online and thanked its patients for being flexible during the crisis.
“Our teams will be working actively through the weekend as we continue to resolve remaining issues in preparation for the start of the work week,” the hospital wrote in a statement.
In Austria, a leading organization of doctors said the outage exposed the vulnerability of relying on digital systems. Harald Mayer, vice president of the Austrian Chamber of Doctors, said the outage showed that hospitals need to have analog backups to protect patient care.
The organization also called on governments to impose high standards in patient data protection and security, and on health providers to train staff and put systems in place to manage crises.
“Happily, where there were problems, these were kept small and short-lived and many areas of care were unaffected” in Austria, Mayer said.
The Schleswig-Holstein University Hospital in northern Germany, which canceled all elective procedures Friday, said Saturday that systems were gradually being restored and that elective surgery could resume by Monday.